In me, we have that rare case when suicide is considered on purely rational grounds, without being affected by depression, any sort of life problem, nor personal relations’ tragedy. I came in here to share how it is so and to look for an rational advice about whether my conclusions are correct, and in (unlikely) case they are not, – then why it would be so (in detail), and what correct conlusions would be.
The title i gave to this message – “What for?” – is a rhetorical (for me, nowadays) question about life. What for do i have to keep living? What for do i have to continue any efforts of mine spent to keep alive and well? The answer is, as far as i can see – “nothing”.
Let me show you why.
1. Some say, we are to live for children, for family, to continue human race. This is, in my case, incorrect.
I am 30+ years old male single, i don’t have a wife nor any children, and it’s right thing to do: not to create a new family at present circumstances; it’s so not just for me, but for everyone (though most do not realize it, of course). Why? Because in a few decades tops, humans will go extinct. That said, you might even think i am nuts. Before you do, consider the following. I spent several years digging into scientific papers about and related-to methane clathrates in Arctic continental shelves. “Clathrate gun hypothesis” (see wikipedia for it) is not just true; it’s underestimated. The key process – which already started and will be mostly complete in next ~15 years – is melt of sea ice above shallow continental shelves of Arctic ocean, and not just melt of it, but melt of it during months of maximum insolation – namely June through early August. Conclusion about ~15 years needed to most of ice in said regions during said months to be gone – any intelligent person can do by studying PIOMASS data, Icesat II data, works of Peter Wadhams, Wieslaw Maslowski, existing maps of ice cover during last few decades and up to date. Conclusion about key importance of there-and-then ice – is very simply based on the facts that ice reflects most of sunlight back to space, and furthermore, much of secondary near-infrared radiation which GHGs sent back to earth, – is also refltected by the ice; but once ice is gone, both sunlight and secondary radiation from GHGs – most of both goes straight into the water and much of both reaches the seabed of shallow continental shelves, thus destabilizing methane clathrates there (which are kept in solid form only by low temperature). Current observations (since 2010) of Igor Semiletov and collegues, Natalia Shakhova and collegues, and US researchers confirm and quantify already gigantic annual methane release caused by loss of ~10% of summer ice directly above methane clathrates. During June…early_August, solar insolation in Arctic is on par or higher than at Equator. The more open water during maximum insolation months there is above methane clathrates, the more methane goes out; just-released methane, being extremely very potent GHG, accelerate local warming and further methane release, and many times more so in case there is no ice to reflect the heat trapped by released methane. In 2012, ~10% of ice above shallow seabed clathrates was gone during July, yet we already have methane levels so high it’s hard to get straight data on it – the thing is already out of control (so it’s needed to use several sources and carefully look for consistencies between ice cover and methane levels if one wants to avoid using fake – much calmed down, – data). In 10 years, annual methane emissions from Arctic will produce more annual warming effect than greenhouse gases emitted by mankind during all the industrial phase of civilization. In 20 years, every year, methane will warm the globe up _times_ more than all the CO2 and other GHG gases humans emitted up to date. Runaway warming of several degrees celcius in a matter of 2-3 decades will follow. It will result in widespread mega-droughts in many regions (PDSI studies – professor Dai and collegues – indicate that mediterranian, middle east, much of US soil, much of western Europe, much of China and south-east Asia, much of Australia and some of South America will all be rendered unable to produce grain, due to severe-or-worse drought conditions becoming a new norm). It will shift precipitation patterns and produce regular massive floods in those and other regions, in the same time. It will decrease average moisture content of soils worlwide, due to simple fact that higher temperatures and lower humidity (drought conditions) cause further intensive evaporation of what little moisture remains in the soil. It will render most ecosystems destroyed, and most agriculture crops being unable to survive growing season – in nearly all parts of the world, – and it’ll make diseases and parasites to flourish like never before, on both humans themselves and on our plants and animals (this is already starting, scale is already hundreds of billions of dollars of annnual loss worldwide – bird flu, e.coli death/poison cases, malaria, wheat epidemics, “white disease” of corals, you name it; but yet – it’s “just starting”, as all those seen now are but a little glimpse of what we’ll get in 4+ degrees celcius world). In less than 30 years, global civilization will shutdown (possible that it’ll happen much sooner, but not likely any longer than 30). As a consequence, in many countries, central electrical grid will be shut down (not just by global economic and social chaos themselves, but also much via unevitable civil unrests and wars, lack of global supply chains, and infrastructure damage to power grid by unprecedentally strong winds and storms – cathegory 6 harricanes are projected to 1st appear some time near 2020 even today, while at present cat 5 is the “worst” existing cathegory of hurricanes’ power scale). The more countries will have central electric grid failed, the more nuclear power plants will melt – Fukushima disaster was technically caused exactly by the loss of external electric power and impossibility to restore it quickly to cool down those reactors and spent fuel rod pools. Japan was lucky to have winds blowing to sea when Fukushima melted, thus much of radioactivity went into vast Pacific ocean; and while some of future meltdowns will be the same, – many others will be more like Chernobil, radioactively polluting large areas of arable land. The more nuclear power plants melt, the more radioactivity will be around, and what could be easily tolerated by mankind as a single catastrophe – will just be one of hundreds events which together, may well form enoguh radioactivity (bit by small bit) in vastly huge regions to make survival practically impossible. I mean, if we get 1 nuclear plant popping some few hundreds mile away and placing some 0.5 Zv of radioactivity (total for my lifetime) to me, i can live; but if we get several dozens of them each giving me 0.5Zv, to a net total of some ~20 Zv, – it’s quite likely i’ll get some cancer and die in less than a year. With many hundreds of nuclear plants operational, plus nuclear subs, spent nuclear fuel storage facilities, military fission matherial storage facilities, etc – it won’t take long before all but most remote-and-lucky regions become not just unbearably hot, but also dangerously radioactive. I live in outskirts of one big city (more than 10 millions citizens), and for me (and any family if i would create one), it’s a clear death sentense: city itself has 30+ nuclear reactors (mostly research ones) within city borders. All that together plus several other very grim issues such as dependance of agriculture on fossil fuels – which seem to be here to stay for several decades at least; fast loss of genetic diversity of agriculture plants; ongoing deterioration of arable land world-wide due to overexploitation, pollution, erosion, overheating; ongoing pollution of potable waters worldwide by trace amounts of biologically harmful agents – by-products of modern chemical industries; ongoing increase of CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels, – and absense of any real alternative to it (as long as we want those 7+ billions to be fed, clothed, and sheltered) – in sum, among all those, we humans are dead in a few decades for sure. And no, we can’t go back to “hunter-gatherer” life style – for this we’d need things to hunt for and things to gather, but at present, most of those things are gone (most of fish – gone, most of large anymals which were present some 10+ thousands years ago – gone, most of forests present 10+ thousands years ago – gone, etc etc) – and in a few decades left, agonyzing mankind will sure see to consume what little we still have left. By the time industrial global civilization finally shuts down, we will only have rats and cockroaches to hunt, and some few barely edible wild plants’ parts to gather. In a hot and radioactive world, this won’t be enough to survive. So the family and kids – what for i am going to spend my effort on it, if i do know with certainty that they will simply die along with me, and most likely suffer much before gettin dead, too? There is no future for them, and frankly, i see no reason to give some more life where the future likely holds nothing but suffering and death for us all.
Even if all above wouldn’t be the case, there is still issue of overpopulation of Earth; mankind presently consumes more than 120% of renewable resources (cutting into their base), and this can’t last long. In this situation, making children is in fact as suicidal as jumping off the cliff: the only difference being that cliff jump kills just one person in mere seconds, but making more people alive – kills us all in several decades.
2. Some say, we live to make an achievement of our lifetime. Invent something good, write a great book, create a monumental symphony, or just “plant a tree, build a house and raise a son”. The latter part is handled just above, though. For me, the answer to this is “wrong idea”. Mankind already have created too much. Our machines kill the nature. Someone created those – and most likely, without desire to kill nature, but “for the good of people”. Our praised high living standards result in overpopulation and consumerism, killing the nature just as well – and again, someone did invent waterclosets, and tap water, and multi-apartment high-store buildings and skyscrapers, elevators, cars, trains, planes, you name it; all done for the good of people, yet all contributing to destruction of biosphere of Earth, which is our only and supreme life support system. Our art is overcrowded by epically good items – most of which almost noone ever see, much of them unjustily forgotten; and even so, there is more good art than one can hope to see/hear in one’s lifetime, already. But most importantly, nowadays, to achieve something big means to work for some capitalist (for me and for vast majority of people who, like me, are not born having massive fortune to self-finance their own work). To do so means to propel existing system of devouring biosphere further, and, apparently, is no less suicidal than jumping off a cliff: the only difference being that cliff jump kills just one person in mere seconds, but making some capitalist(s) even more powerful – kills biosphere (and its part – us all) in several decades or centuries.
3. Some say, we live to enjoy life. This, is true, but only as long as it lasts. I did enjoy much in my life. Love, friendships, joyful activities. But lately, nothing interests me anymore. I tried all things which were interesting to me, and today, when i am not busy with my work nor my only serious hobby – which is studying climatology, physics, sociology and history of past civilizations, – i surf internet rather mindlessly, mostly reading some news (which confirms time and time and time again that my conclusions about mankind are, sadly, quite sound). From phychology, i know that creating some trouble for myself is the recipy to get my interests revived; where there is trouble, there is also time to enjoy its solution and its absense, where there is times which are hard – there are also unevitably times which are relaxing and entertaining. But frankly, i have my little calm job place 5 minutes of walk from my appartment, i eat well, i sleep well, i have all i need in my humble desires, and i value this peace and personal well being more than enough to willingly abandon it, even if temporarily. It took quite an effort to get it all. Bottom line, it is my belief, – unlike other things which are rational conclusions, this one is just a belief, – that at some point in life, person just grows bored with his/her life, and there is nothing to prevent it nor to do about it. Just like children who lose their desire to taste everything (any objects) quite early, just like teenagers who – sooner or later, – lose interest to have sex with whomever would agree to have sex, – very similarly, any person, sooner or later, loses interest to the last activity which before then was interesting thing to do, for the person. Alas, in some people, this never happens before they die, apparently; in quite many, this happens when they grow old (perhaps it’s other way around – perhaps that’s _how_ people actually become old?). In me, it already happened. My life is not boring thing by itself, far from, but myself, i am bored with it for last few years, and this is something which apparently will stay with me all the way till i die.
4. Some say, there is God, and we are to live here on Earth to earn place in heaven, etc. Myself, i am an agnostic-kind fella: i do not have faith in God (and i am honest enough to say so), but neither i deny the possibility that God exists (so i am not an atheist, either). For some while, this possibility was sort of “last hope” for me, – i thought: “well if God exists and it’s He who gave me my life, he’d probably be angry if i’d kill myself, or if i’d live my life in a way which is useless or sinful”. But not anymore: i realized that if God exists, still, he have chosen to not show himself to me in any reasonably believable manner, and thus, even if God exists, it is his choice to make me live as if He would not exist; to give me this sort of freedom and untie my hands. I am born on Earth and i can touch, smell, see, hear whatever is around me, and then there are sciences to show me so much more than that in a believable manner, and technologies which make things which some ancient cavemen would simply name “miracles” and “god-like”. But God is nowhere to be found, except in sayings of other people, sayings which are always (i checked so many times) of unreliable nature. Always. I ask them how can i know God exists – they say “you can’t, just have faith!”. But faith is something which can’t be “grown” inside one’s mind; it can’t be “constructed”, “built”. One either has faith in God, or not. It’s kind of by-heart thing, one either has it, or not. I don’t. Lucky are those who do: for them, “what for?” question of life will always have at least one answer. For me, there is no such luxury.
5. Some few say, we are to live for others. To help other humans, to give love, to be loved, to make others’ lives better. There is certainly good logic into this one, we humans are pack anymals and thus, we function the best when it’s indeed mutual support and help and good emotions within groups we are a part of. However, this one is substituting the goal with the method. It is “how?” – i.e., a method, – when we say “live for others if you don’t see any meaning in living for yourself”. It’s not a goal by itself. The goal which is reached by said method, – is better life of others. Why exactly i would want to achieve such a goal? Sure there are some practical reasons – for example, mutuality of support means that if i regularly help others, i indeed can hope for at least some support from them at times when i am in crisys myself. Long story short, though, it all boils down to “longer life for others and for myself”. This is the ultimate goal of “living for others”. However, at present circumstances, this is exactly opposite of what i’d wish for both others and myself – see p.1 of this post to see why. Frankly, the more people die before shutdown of global industrial civilization, the less deadly the shutdown itself will be – less street thugs, less desperate-for-food people, less cannibalism, less mass killing and other atrocities, less infections from all the rotting-in-strets bodies, you name it. What little grace can be saved for passing away last 1% of homo spaiens of Earth, – can be saved by reducing population now, while civilization is still holds in most regions of the world (poor Africa already started to disintegrate in some of its countries). And really, that’s the only difference, in the end, between living more with the idea to help others, – and chosing to go away now and thus not doing help to others in observable future (dead people can’t help other, alive people, i mean).
And that’s quite it. There is nothing to live for, for me, nowadays; i continue my existance largely by inertia, and what little curiousity is left in me to see how clathrate gun process is developing, how it affects temperatures worldwide, how much lie and fake is said all around it (in my country, the amount of global warming decline in general, – ESPECIALLY in academic circles, – is mindblowingly huge; clathrates are seen as millenia-scale process of no practical importance, even despite all the latest evidence for the contrary). Much more often than not, mankind makes me ever more grim and pessimistic about its own (and thus, my own – can’t live alone) future. Being rational and rather intelligent creature, i am also unwilling to take any irreversible steps. However, for more than a year now, i see no point whatsoever to continue my personal existance, – while seeing at least 3 points (see above, p.1 through to p.5) to end it. If i’ll do it, it will be in remote area, most likely noone will ever discover my body, noone will ever have to do any effort to bury me, and i’ll use one of methods which i know are 100% effective once put in motion (yes yes, this is internet, so no i am not going to share which ones those are, – this site clearly prohibits it). But it feels quite wrong. Life on Earth is so amazing proccess of billions years long time; how can it be that we, humans, being ones of most complex and advanced creatures ever existed on the face of this little planet, – how can it be that we are failing our mother planet so hard that it’ll kill nearly all multi-cellular life on it in a matter of just couple thousands years since we invented fire?.. It feels so wrong. Unfortunately, i know that nature itself does “wrong” things quite often – species overshoot, eruptions of mega-volcanoes, large asteroid hits and other events which in the past wiped most of life off the face of Earth. But we, humans, did show some promise. We have so rich history… I want to be wrong about our impeding doom and extinction. I want to have hope. May be someone here will show me something which can give a least a tiny bit of hope?
Because myself, knowing what i know, after those years of reading most able researchers of climate and glaciology, i don’t have any hope whatsoever, and for me, the only logical, rational, reasonable and responsible act – is to walk out there and disappear, setting up my own death to be peaceful, quick, and not bothersome to anyone else alive.